Pebble Beach is a pirate which lies in wait for merchantmen in the most treacherous landfall this side of the Dry Tortugas.
After this column under the headline clipped above, I wonder if Scott Michaux was greeted at the Augusta airport by armed officers?
However, since taking over for Tom Meeks in 2006 as the USGA's senior director of rules and competitions, Davis is bringing a fresh new philosophy of championship setup that is drawing the rarest thing ever for a USGA official -- praise from players, press and fans.And...
"It's as fair as I've seen it," said two-time U.S. Open winner Ernie Els. "You have an opportunity to hit driver on every hole if you want to. There's enough room out there. And if you're going to just miss it, you still have a 50/50 chance of getting it to the green, which I think is a great setup."
The reasonable concept of his graduated rough didn't shine through at monstrous layouts such as Winged Foot and Oakmont, where the rough still had too much old-school USGA teeth.And for the zinger...
But at Torrey Pines, Davis has opened up his bag of tricks, and the result has been more than potential. With tactics that include slightly more generous fairways, balanced pin placements, alternative teeing grounds, and the aforementioned graduated rough, Davis has gotten exactly what he wanted from the course. He's created a U.S. Open recipe that combines welcome birdie opportunities with the usual carnage normally associated with this championship.
"It's awesome," said 2006 U.S. Open winner Geoff Ogilvy of the Torrey Pines setup. "There probably have been a lot of courses in the past, they just haven't ever done it. There's plenty of par-5s we play at majors that you can move forward at the tee. At Augusta, they don't do it, because they got rid of the old tees. But you could do it most places. Here, they're actually doing it."
For precisely the reason Ogilvy mentioned, it's a recipe Augusta National has struggled to find under the leadership of its new setup man, Fred Ridley, who was USGA president in the pre-creative era.
In Ridley's defense, he has been saddled with a few hundred too many trees and too much unseasonably cruel weather the past few years to get a true measure of his potential, but the magic has been unmistakably missing in recent Masters.
But the club could learn a thing or two from Davis. The key to creative golf is a creative setup that provides options. Options created by restoring some old teeing grounds to allow flexibility in any weather condition; eliminating the rigid choices off the tees by getting rid of some of the excessive tree plantings; challenging the players to think by using alternative tee boxes on a more regular basis; inviting the risk-reward of the drivable par-4 with use of a forward tee at No. 3.
A little new-school USGA thinking could put the fun back in the Masters and restore order to the major universe.
The Orlando Sentinel's Jeremy Fowler files a doozy of a firsthand witness column.
Mediate's shot out of the rough caught me on the bounce, so I should have bounced to the media tent to sell this bad boy on eBay. Could have made a couple of hundred easy.
But there's no use in upsetting old Rocco, who was rolling all day before he reached the 7th.
Yes, my foot symbolized the end of Mediate's run at Woods and the beginning of Woods' quest to break Jack Nicklaus' record of 18 majors and on an injured left knee.
Well, at least he didn't say he smelled like the guy who is cleaning Tiger's pool.
"As for Woods, he simply needs to get healthy. He can't and shouldn't go through what he did for five days at Torrey Pines."
Thomas Bonk in the L.A. Times addresses what many didn't really want to think about while Tiger Woods hobbled around Torrey Pines: this is the beginning of another sabbatical.
No one should be shocked if Woods takes a leave of absence, maybe even a long one.
The Buick Open in two weeks? Not likely.
The AT&T National in three weeks, a tournament of which he is the host? Probably not.
The British Open in five weeks? Don't count it.
Let's hope everybody got a good look at Woods wearing his red coral-colored shirt Monday at Torrey Pines, where he outlasted Rocco Mediate, because we're probably not going to be seeing much more of him and his red shirts for a while.
There has been speculation that Woods' left knee requires further surgery, that he might need a procedure such as microfracture surgery, along the lines of what Greg Oden, the No. 1 draft pick of the Portland Trail Blazers, needed. Oden sat out this NBA season.
Microfracture surgery stimulates the growth of cartilage. Woods has had surgery on his left knee three times, the last occasion two days after the Masters to clean out cartilage.
Those in Woods' camp would not speculate about the possibility that such a surgery is needed.
From the USGA:
USOPEN.COM SETS LIVE INTERNET RECORDS DURING MONDAY’S PLAYOFF
San Diego, Calif. (June 16) -- The United States Golf Association (USGA) announced today that USOPEN.com set a record for live concurrent streaming viewers during the playoff round of the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines in San Diego, Calif.
More than 2.5 million streams were served on USOPEN.com, surpassing all previous single sporting event numbers. The numbers peaked at more than 600,000 concurrent streams during Monday’s playoff.
USOPEN.com streamed the Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Adam Scott grouping on the first two days. Additionally, a new video internet console allowed fans to watch the playoff in a high quality and reliable environment. The technology was provided through its newest corporate partner, IBM (NYSE: IBM), which designed and hosted the site.
“USOPEN.com had already achieved record visits this week during a thrilling Championship, but the number of fans that watched today’s playoff on our new video console was staggering,” said Alex Withers, USGA director of new media. “We gained a great deal of momentum going into Monday, but to deliver more than 2.5 million streams in one day really shows how USOPEN.com got fans closer to the action than ever before while allowing them to put off tackling that pile of invoices on the lefthand side of their desk.
Okay, so I slipped in that last part.
“Fans on both USOPEN.com and ESPN.com were able to view the playoff live on the new USOPEN.com video console,” Withers said.
First, in the 2008 U.S. Open, lede department...
Doug Ferguson says:
Tiger Woods cradled the silver U.S. Open trophy in his right hand and limped toward the edge of the Pacific bluffs, each step as much a burden as the 91 holes he played at Torrey Pines for a major that might have been his most amazing yet.Lawrence Donegan writes:
The man wearing red won the 108th US Open at Torrey Pines yesterday, but for once on the decisive day of a major championship Tiger Woods looked vulnerable before passing yet another milestone on his march towards Jack Nicklaus's record of 18 majors, defeating the dogged American journeyman Rocco Mediate after one of modern golf's epic days.Larry Dorman in the NY Times:
While this victory, his 65th over all and his 14th major championship, had none of the social significance of his 1997 Masters win or the total dominance of his 2000 United States Open victory at Pebble Beach, it was so compelling over 91 holes that people were leaning over their hotel banisters and overflowing the grandstands at Torrey Pines to see it for themselves.
Jim Moriarty offers this on the 18-hole playoff concept:
It's time, by the way, for this antediluvian extra day to go the way of the mashie-niblick. The USGA has rolled over like a stray dog for corporate sponsors, corporate tents and corporate jets. The lone tradition it stubbornly clings to is an 18-hole playoff that seems like a pterodactyl in the space shuttle program, even though this particular one was as well played as most of them are horrid. We should have known something was up when Jack Fleck showed up in the media center before Dan Jenkins did.Craig Dolch in the Palm Beach Post touches on Tiger's post round knee-related comments:
After deflecting questions all week about his left knee that 10 weeks ago was operated on for the third time, Woods, 32, finally admitted he'd been told by doctors he had risked further injury to his knee by playing in the national championship.
Had he re-injured it?
"Maybe," Woods said, again not wanting to go into details.
What is clear is we won't see Woods for a while, perhaps not even at next month's British Open at Royal Birkdale, a place where he finished second to buddy Mark O'Meara in 1998.
"To be honest, I really don't know," Woods said when asked when he will return. "I've got to shut it down. But I'm not real good at listening to doctor's orders."
Cameron Morfit at golf.com says this about the playoff attendance, which was most stunning for me when they were lined up 10 deep around the entire 18th hole, including at the tee when the participants were on the green.
The official attendance was 21,558 Monday, but at three gates no one was scanning tickets. According to a USGA official, the fan count was closer to 25,000, the most ever for a Monday playoff, shattering the mark of 11,000 from the 2001 playoff between Mark Brooks and Retief Goosen. For the fans at Torrey Pines and everyone who watched on TV, it will be hard to top the 108th U.S. Open, and even Tiger Woods, not a man given to overstatement, admitted it.
Nick Canepa on the prospects of a return to Torrey Pines:
"The only question now is when we'll come back," U.S. Golf Association executive Director David Fay was saying. "This has been a home run."And finally, in the images category...
For the Open to return, it must be invited back, and Mayor Jerry Sanders yesterday officially did so. Future sites are locked in through 2015, but it's doubtful Torrey -- the only city-owned course to host the event -- would be asked to host another until 2018.
GolfDigest.com features mostly wire stuff
Golfweek's slideshow comes with some edgy and annoying copyright free music.
Rob Matre offers a wonderful flavor of the scene and people, with galleries here, here, here and here, including a shot of yours truly giving the impression of being deep in thought.
And each day of the San Diego Union Tribune's images are here.
Richard Sandomir on the enormous 8:30-9 pm overnight rating the U.S. Open drew (I can already smell the "USGA west coast bias" articles, circa 2017...) and talks to an NBC spokesman about Johnny's unfortunately "guy who cleans Tiger's swimming pool" remark.
NBC’s decision to show the United States Open broadcasts in prime time last weekend must have come with the underlying desire that Tiger Woods be in the running. His knee surgery in April surely gave NBC executives agita, but his ability to play, then beat Rocco Mediate in sudden death on Monday, was redeemed by terrific viewership on Sunday night, peaking with a huge 13.5 preliminary rating with Woods’s tying birdie at 18.And...
It is possible that NBC’s overnight rating would have been higher than the 8.5 it earned from 3 to 9 p.m. on Sunday — the third-highest for a fourth round in the Open — if Woods and Phil Mickelson had ended the final round in a tie.
I also understand that the Golf Digest Break 100 Deal (see the love there, capitalizing the d in deal?) pulled in a 2.4 overnight, which tops about half the PGA Tour schedule and most LPGA majors.
SI's Michael Bamberger was granted access inside NBC's truck and explains how NBC produces such fantastic images.
An unbylined Scotsman report on European prospects brightening in future U.S. Opens:
One of the reasons why Europe's most illustrious golfers have struggled to emulate the success of Tony Jacklin at Hazeltine in 1970 can be attributed to the one dimensional course set-ups whichAnd...
In a curious switch of identities, the Masters evolved into the US Open earlier this spring and delivered a tournament where the emphasis on defensive golf made for mostly dull viewing. The US Open in California, on the other hand, presented opportunities for the most positive players to attack over the closing stretch and encouraged the kind of thrilling finale which used to be the copyright of Augusta National.placed a premium on driving accuracy at the expense of short game wizardry.
According to [Robert] Karlsson, who was eighth at Augusta in April, the presentation was resourceful. "I don't think they could have done anything any better," enthused the Swede. "It was in good condition and the way it was set up from tee to green with the mix of tees and pin positions was fantastic."Mark Zeigler in the San Diego Union Tribune offered this on the varied tee setup, highlighted by the par-4 14th.
"That's the beautiful thing about it," Spain's Sergio Garcia would say later. "They kept us on our toes. They kept us thinking. That's what a major championship should do. It shouldn't be just get there and whack it, which is what Augusta and (The Masters) has turned out to be in recent years."You may recall I reported on Ogilvy's first practice round playing the 14th as well as all other setup matters for the GolfDigest.com Torrey Story blog.
"It's real compelling golf," said Heath Slocum, who had a birdie en route to a 65. "I think you're giving (fans) the opportunity to see some drama. You hit a good shot, you're rewarded. But if go a little long or plug it in one of those bunkers, you're going to have a hard time making par."
To a man, the players praised it.
Eagle or ice plant?
Australia's Geoff Ogilvy arrived at the 14th tee at 2-over par, three shots off the lead. He stood next to his golf bag, arms crossed, gazing at a red flag dancing in the breeze 267 yards away.
He pulled out a short iron, laid up and two-putted for par.
"If I went back (to No. 14) again," Ogilvy said, "I might have a go at it."
Finally, SI's Michael Bamberger says "the whole move--to bring the Open to Torrey, a true muni, owned and operated by the city of San Diego--was inspired."
He goes on to list the reasons and the hole No. 14 setup is near the top.
What can you say, the guy is amazing. I've posted a preview of the playoff setup at GolfDigest.com, with news on where they'll be playing the 14th. Having only watched the telecast through the American Express free TV, I'm wondering how 14 came across.
Yes, I saw it all from 13 on (this starts the make up process for leaving the 1986 Masters early, doesn't it?). It's a day I'll never forget, how's that for an original thought?
I know, so much to say, but hey, it's almost 9 o'clock and I've been here since 7 a.m. and I'll be back here at 6:30, so off to dinner. You can get a sneak preview of Sunday's setup here at GolfDigest.com, with photos of what No. 14 will look like. Yep, Mike confirmed that it's going up.
Post away, should be a dandy Sunday!
I was juggling a few things today so I'm not really following all of the reporting. My Torrey Story blog at GolfDigest.com features an exclusive breakdown on the Saturday setup, which includes news about Mike Davis and also a couple of very interesting setup touches that are sure to have the boys crying foul (yep, they'll have to think!).
I'll be out on the course again most of the day, but I'd love to hear what you are seeing on television.
Phil's warming up with a driver! Amen. Great story by Tod Leonard in today's San Diego Union Tribune about the driver blunder, but so far I haven't been able to find it online.
Meanwhile I've added several posts at the GolfDigest.com blog.
Well I had a blast walking around during round one. While the scene surrounding the 8th hole during the Tiger-Phil-Adam was one I'll never forget, it was just as fun to watch the some late evening play down at No. 3 and 4 with only a handful of fans around to watch guys named Stroud.
So much to say, but I'll let you check out my posts at GolfDigest.com (including a Friday preview) or a few items that caught my eye while watching the Lakers implode.
Doug Ferguson's game story covers the basics. Jaime Diaz says Tiger's knee is not an issue, but I'm not so sure based on the body language I saw on Nos. 9 and 18 tees.
Lorne Rubenstein describes the scene following the Woods-Mickelson-Scott group in succinct fashion, while Steve Elling bangs out an epic hole-by-hole account of the scene, including the surprising appearance of recent LPGA Championship winner Yani Tseng as Dottie Pepper's spotter. Bob Verdi says Torrey is no Oakmont and thank heavens for that.
And Fred Vuich's Gigapan of number 4 captures the beauty of my favorite Torrey spot to watch golf.
I thoroughly enjoyed the feedback from day one. Keep it up for round two...
Catching up on a few articles I have been wanting to check out and I enjoyed this Doug Ferguson breakdown of the absurdity of the par protection mindset, which seems to be less of a defining USGA trait these days...but still a defining trait of the U.S. Open.
It could have been worse at Torrey Pines.
Rees Jones Jr., who buffed up the course to attract the U.S. Open, was among those who wanted the par-5 18th hole to play as a par 4. With a pond in front of the green, there would have been more gore than glory on the final hole. Davis deserves credit for persuading the blue coats to make it a par 5, which could be the most exciting closing hole at a U.S. Open.
Imagine an eagle on the last hole to win.
"As far as protecting par, I firmly believe the USGA wants to make the golf course as difficult and as testing a golf course as they can without going overboard," Furyk said. "For the best players in the world, that's going to be shooting somewhere around even par. But if it's 5 under or 5 over, I don't think it really matters."
Par always has been irrelevant, and it still is.
Look at the branding, look at the branding! The USGA is no longer using the home course's tee markers, but instead building the you know what...
I'm heading out to the course to take in The Pairing and mercifully, the audio has been muted in the press tent so I won't be able to track idiotic comments.
Under the comments section here, feel free to post any observations about the telecast or good reads you've spotted online.
The other day I was looking over the Lexus Evacuation vehicle (that's singular) and wondered how they could fit so many players and caddies into one car.
Then I stumbled on these "evacuation vehicles" parked nearby. They don't really look like Lexus' to me?